Do you feel like you always give, give, give and never have time to recharge your batteries? Do everyone else’s needs take priority and, being last on the list, your needs never get addressed?
No one can fix this except you! You need to decide that your needs are important, and that you can’t keep giving if you are drained and worn out. Otherwise, by your actions, you may actually be giving other people the message that your needs don’t matter. Unless you place value on your needs and make a commitment to yourself, nothing will change.
There will be times in your life when you need to reassess your priorities for a period of time: if you have a new baby, if a family member is very ill, or if there is some kind of emergency that needs immediate attention. However, even in these situations, if you never get a break or a chance to rest, you will burn out.
How do you change this pattern of never taking care of yourself?
- Choose an activity that you really enjoy and that helps you feel positive about yourself. It doesn’t matter what the activity is or what other people think about it, as long as it nourishes you. Do you crave activities that are: challenging? affirming? relaxing? exciting? calming? Make a commitment to do at least one activity that you enjoy, and to do it as often as possible.
- Plan it into your week or it won’t happen. If you don’t schedule it, other things will crowd it out or it will just get lost in the demands of life. When it’s time, make yourself do it, even if the house is a mess and you are behind with the laundry. Don’t let everything else come first. If you have to, keep telling yourself that you are important and that taking care of yourself is the best way to take care of those you care about.
- Find a friend or partner who is supportive of you and who will hold you accountable to do the activity you have chosen. This may mean actually doing your chosen activity with your friend, or just letting them know that you plan to take time for yourself and asking them to be in touch to make sure you follow through. It is important that this is done in a caring and supportive way, not from someone who is critical or always telling you what you “should” be doing.
I truly believe that as you get better at taking care of yourself, you will be able to care for others in a more authentic and honest way. So… you are taking care of yourself and you are more able to be there for others in the process.
Take a deep breath, have fun, and enjoy!
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
Nelson Mandela (1918 – )